On October 24, 2009 a group of men and women gathered on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to join together in battle. With over a thousand people in attendance in the Sarah D Roosevelt Park, we the men and women of the fight gathered to eat way too many delicious Chef One Whole Wheat Organic Chicken Dumplings.
I clearly joined this battle for social justice; aiming to eradicate the horrific hunger problem in our wonderful city. It is shameful that millions of people are hungry or at risk of hunger in the richest city in the richest country in the world. 1 in 5 children in this city suffer from hunger related issues on a daily basis. It is wrong and I knew I could do something about it.
So I ate some dumplings and so did about 75 more of my newest friends.
The New York City Food Bank helped organize the first ever Dumpling Festival in New York City. With generous sponsorship from Chef One, the festival and eating contest raised many thousands of dollars and a ton of awareness about the issues surrounding hunger in the city.
I arrived at our battle station at 11:45 am to register and sit quietly. I met some of the most seasoned professional eaters in the business and got some tips on how to take down as many of those little meat packets as possible in our two minute time period. I listened. We laughed. Big Will the Champ (pictured right), a Tweep friend of mine, gave me some pointers about how to be a bad ass and also eat lots of food quickly.
And then it got serious. After a mandatory reading of the wavier we all signed by the PR folks at Chef One and an optional bathroom trip (also facilitated by the PR folks at Chef One; they think of everything) we were getting ready to go into the heat of struggle.
I was lucky enough to be in the first wave of men to hit the stage. But before I went up I spoke briefly with a Food Bank staffer regarding his feelings about an eating contest to benefit hunger awareness. He said, all the things you would expect but the fact of the matter was, he explained, that Chef One’s parent company TMI donates more than two tons of food a year to the Food Bank as well as monetary donations. This is significant cash and their food is good, some of it very healthy and nutritious. So in the end everyone wins.
As I marched onto the stage a woman from Florida (the MC) walked down the line to introduce the warriors against hunger. I was number six and my supporters numbered three (My lovely wife, Rachel R and Sapana S) until I said something clever and two people in the back started cheering for me as well. I liked them, outside of the fact he was wearing a Yankees hat; all is forgiven on dumpling day.
At the sound of the air horn, we started eating. Pro-Eater "Furious" Pete Czerwinski (he is Canadian) eating next to me had finished an entire bowl of 20 before I had polished off five. Those suckers turned into cement in the mouth. That was when I slowed down just bit, to enjoy these very tasty little bites of dumpling goodness. Took a sip of water and went back to it.
In the end I put down 18 bad boys. I believe I came in fourth in my heat and definitely did better than the worst. The other guy next to me, almost hurled and got a little dumpling on my arm but that wasn’t even close to as bad as the Canadian who dumped two bottles of water on his dumplings so to better shovel more into his mouth. He ate 52 of them in two minutes to come in second over all and the now four time champ "Gentleman"Joe Manchetti put down 53 (also pictured right) to win again. A first timer in the women’s division put down 40 to win it for the females.
All in all it was one of those crazy days on the battlefield of New York. I don’t believe I will be entering another eating comp anytime soon but I will continue to help the Food Bank of New York and our other local hunger fighting organizations in our battle to bring tasty and delicious food to those who need it in our city.